Seaside Hideaway review

Seaside Hideaway is a new hidden object game for Facebook from HitPoint Studios, codevelopers of Glu’s Gun Bros. The game is currently in open beta with a few features (including purchasable “hint” items) still to be implemented, but is fully playable at this time.

Seaside Hideaway casts players in the role of a newcomer to a little seaside town. The town’s mayor quickly greets the player and asks them to help with the rebuilding process, and thus begins a very conventional hidden object game, alternating between light citybuilding elements and hidden object scenes, with progress in the former component unlocking further challenges in the latter part. Building any structure in the town builds “appeal points,” and each hidden object scene requires a specific amount of these points to gain access to. Premium items, purchasable using the game’s hard currency, tend to provide significantly more appeal points than regular items, sometimes even unlocking multiple levels simultaneously.

There’s nothing new or remarkable in Seaside Hideaway’s gameplay — everything it does has been done before by other hidden object titles. That’s not to say it’s a bad game — the excellent audio-visual presentation alone makes it worthy of note — but there’s little here to distinguish it from more well-established titles in the genre. The “seaside town restoration” narrative is charming and quaint, but ultimately lightweight and mostly irrelevant, providing little incentive to progress.

The game also suffers from many of the same flaws that its rivals do. Inconsistent, ambiguous object names sometimes make it difficult to find the items in question — on one level, the player might be tasked with finding a “handbag,” while on the next, the same item might be called a “purse.” Similarly, one level features flowers that look like tulips in a pot and requests that the player find a “tulip shell,” which in fact has nothing to do with the flowers. One could argue that this is simply deviousness on the part of the puzzle designers, but it often comes across as feeling cheap and unfair — this is a shame, since many of the scenes do feature objects hidden in amusingly creative spots without resorting to the ridiculous, unrealistic changes in scale that some titles do.

There are a couple of inconsistent bugs in the experience, too. For example, when tested on a Windows 7 computer, clicking the “replay scene” button after completing a level simply displayed the background image without listing any new items, though this bug did not reappear when tried on a different, Mac OS X-based computer. Some users on the game’s official community page have also complained of sporadic loading issues or problems with the purchase of premium currency.

Seaside Hideaway will likely find some fans on Facebook among the established audience for hidden object games, but it’s unlikely to make converts of those who have already dismissed the genre. If nothing else, it provides yet another game for players to switch to while they wait for their energy to restore in others — though the fact that this is even a consideration shows how little the genre has evolved compared to some other types of social game.

Seaside Hideaway currently has 20,000 monthly active users and 4,000 daily active users. Follow its progress with AppData, our tracking service for social games and developers.

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A well-produced hidden object game that does nothing to advance the genre.

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